The Hokkaido Summit, as I imagine and sense other G7/8 annual summits - now 34 and counting - have been, was an intensive, word-strewn affair. Take a look at the University of Toronto’s G8 Research Group website. The site is filled with Hokkaido’s outpouring of Reports and Statements by G7/8 officials. Even the evaluation of the Summit, entitled, “A Summit of Substantial Success: The Performance of the 2008 G8“, by G8 Research Group leader, Professor John Kirton of the University of Toronto comes to some 45 pages and that doesn’t include appendices that adds another 45 pages. John is taken with Japanese summitry and what he sees as consistent success in leading the summit, which it has done 5 before.
I’ll let you judge for yourself on the overall success of this year’s Summit but recognized or not, there would appear to have been little progress in the possible enlargement of this Great power steering committee. As John points out the only opportunity for a full meeting of O5, now G5 and the G7/8 came at breakfast on the third morning. The session was designed to discuss the Heiligendamm Process. Otherwise the G7/8 and the G5 operated separately (there is at least a promise by the Italians that there will be a more extensive joining of the two in the upcoming Italian summit).
Now, as proposed in Germany, an Interim Report (IR) was presented to the G8 Summit. This IR was prepared by the Steering Committee of the Heiligendamm Proces - meaning the personal representatives of the G8 and the G5. The narrative while interesting underscores that this process is perceived primarily as a topic-driven policy and in some detail sets out the development of the four tables:
- promoting cross-border investment;
- promoting research and innovation including IPR
- a focus on energy with a special focus on energy efficiency; and
- development particularly in Africa.
Notwithstanding the limited acknowledgment of the G5 or joint G7/8 and G5 activity, the G5 leaders in fact met separately and did issue a G5 Statement on July 8, 2008. It is a broad synopsis of the world according to the G5. So, there were more than several references to the developing world credo, “… promoe an action-oriented global partnership for equitable and sustainable development, …”
But on the primary question of collective leadership and the new Great power steering committee there was no advance over earlier statements. As I pointed out in an earlier blog post, “A First Meeting at Yekaterinburg” - this the product of the BRICs Foreign Ministers, both seem wedded to the universal UN model. As the leaders declared, “We thus commit ouselves to a strengthened multilateralism, keeping fully engaged to intensified cooperation under the leadership of the United Nations.” There is no collective call for anything more than a continuation of, “the dialogue and collaboration with the G8 and the international community at large.”
The two Great power groups are sailing away.